Galectin-1 suppresses autoimmune retinal disease by promoting concomitant Th2- and T regulatory-mediated anti-inflammatory responses

J Immunol. 2006 May 15;176(10):6323-32. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.176.10.6323.


Intraocular inflammatory diseases are a common cause of severe visual impairment and blindness. In this study, we investigated the immunoregulatory role of galectin-1 (Gal-1), an endogenous lectin found at sites of T cell activation and immune privilege, in experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU), a Th1-mediated model of retinal disease. Treatment with rGal-1 either early or late during the course of interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein-induced EAU was sufficient to suppress ocular pathology, inhibit leukocyte infiltration, and counteract pathogenic Th1 cells. Administration of rGal-1 at the early or late phases of EAU ameliorated disease by skewing the uveitogenic response toward nonpathogenic Th2 or T regulatory-mediated anti-inflammatory responses. Consistently, adoptive transfer of CD4(+) regulatory T cells obtained from rGal-1-treated mice prevented the development of active EAU in syngeneic recipients. In addition, increased levels of apoptosis were detected in lymph nodes from mice treated with rGal-1 during the efferent phase of the disease. Our results underscore the ability of Gal-1 to counteract Th1-mediated responses through different, but potentially overlapping anti-inflammatory mechanisms and suggest a possible therapeutic use of this protein for the treatment of human uveitic diseases of autoimmune etiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Galectin 1 / administration & dosage
  • Galectin 1 / physiology*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Inflammation Mediators / administration & dosage
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Recombinant Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Retinitis / immunology
  • Retinitis / pathology
  • Retinitis / prevention & control*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / transplantation
  • Th2 Cells / immunology*
  • Th2 Cells / transplantation
  • Uveitis / immunology
  • Uveitis / pathology
  • Uveitis / prevention & control*


  • Galectin 1
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Recombinant Proteins